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Drugs & Health Blog

On the Rise: Marijuana Use and Vaping Among Young Adults

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The NIDA Blog Team

Update (January 2020): Government Regulation of E-cigarettes 

In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established a rule for e-cigarettes and their liquid solutions. Because e-cigarettes contain nicotine derived from tobacco, they are now subject to government regulation as tobacco products. In December 2019, the federal government raised the legal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years, and in January 2020, the FDA issued a policy on the sale of flavored vaping cartridges. 


Life after high school is full of changes. Some of those changes are positive opportunities, like a new job or college classes, while others aren’t, like more exposure to drug use.

When it comes to drug use, what choices are young adults making right now?

Some of their choices are cause for concern. According to the 2018 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, young adults (ages 19 to 22) reported an increase in marijuana use, including vaping marijuana, compared with 2017. More young adults also reported vaping nicotine in 2018.

Let’s look at the details. In 2018, past-year use of marijuana reached an all-time high (43%) among young adults. One in 17 college students reported using marijuana daily or almost daily, compared to one in nine non-college young adults. The infographic below sums it up:

Among college students, past-month nicotine vaping more than doubled from 2017 (6%) to 2018 (15.5%). This is one of the largest increases for any substance since the MTF survey began more than 40 years ago. Nicotine vaping now appears to be more popular with college students than it is with young adults who don’t attend college (15.5% vs. 12.5%). Check out this infographic:

While cigarette smoking continues to be at an all-time low for both groups, more non-college young adults report smoking than their college peers.

The report had some good news: Both college and non-college young adults reported a significant 5-year decline in misuse of prescription opioids. When it came to the misuse of Adderall (a prescription stimulant), rates were higher among college men than college women. However, the reverse was true for non-college young adults: misuse of Adderall was higher for women than for men. See the infographic below.

More good news: Binge drinking (having five or more alcoholic drinks in a row in the past 2 weeks) continues to decline among young adults. For college students, the rate dipped below 30% for the first time since the survey began (to 28%). About 25% of non-college young adults reported binge drinking in 2018.

By learning the facts about marijuana, nicotine, and vaping in your teen years, and carrying that knowledge throughout your life, you can stay healthier and keep the positive trends growing. That’s a choice worth making.

(Read a text version of these infographics.)

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Is there an article about the dangers of drug use/alcohol use?

HI Honey. We have many resources about the risks of drug and alcohol use for teens. You can start by checking out this drug facts page on the brain and addiction: Here you’ll find a list of some of the dangers of drug and alcohol use, with links to other articles. Hope that helps!

do you have a link about the real risk about marijuana?

Hi claire. Thanks for asking. We do! Here is a link to our marijuana Drug Facts page: You might also be interested in checking out the following resources:

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